Aug. 12 (UPI) — A New Zealand firearm buyback program — announced after shooting attacks killed 51 people at two mosques last spring — has removed more than 10,000 guns in one month, officials said.
New Zealand banned most automatic and semi-automatic weapons after the attacks in Christchurch in March. The order was supported by Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and nearly the entire legislature.
Police have since bought back 10,242 firearms since mid-July, and 1,269 others were turned in anonymously. New Zealand has held more than 90 gun collection events where owners are paid for turning in their weapons. The government set aside nearly $100 million for the program.
Officials said owners are also turning accessories and magazines.
Police estimate New Zealanders own about 1.2 to 1.5 million guns, but their exact types are unknown.
Some owners gave up their guns after the March 15 shooting, disturbed by the attacks. Others have criticized the government for moving too quickly on gun control.
Anyone who possesses a firearm that is now barred by New Zealand law could face up to five years in prison.